What I learned about friendship from the social life at camp

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.23.53 PMYou know that “first day of school” feeling? I’m sure you do. Some people love it while others may find it a little scary. The chance to explore a new place, try new things, and make new friends can be simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying.

How about that “first day of camp” feeling? I’m going to be honest with you, I was a shy kid, and the first day of camp I was worried about getting overwhelmed. So many new faces! So many totally new activities! You mean we’re staying here for three weeks?!

Making friends at camp is a piece of cake

Well, it turned out my fears were completely unfounded; I quickly learned that it’s practically impossible not to make new friends at camp. From the team games to the delicious communal meals to the campfire circles, sticking to yourself isn’t really an option. There are no TV shows or computer games to distract you — going outside and joining in the fun is your only choice!

If you’ve ever noticed how doing things with friends is more fun than going solo, you’re not alone. Friendship is at the core of what it is to be human, so it’s only natural that friendship is the part of the camp experience that gets talked about the most.

…But camp doesn’t just teach you how to make friends. It teaches you how to keep them.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Summer camp is a crash course in socializing. Spending days and days together with the same core of friends teaches campers how to communicate with each other in ways that you can’t really learn at school. After all, it’s not just nine-to-five like at school; it’s seven-days-a-week, from dawn ‘till dusk.

You aren’t just playing games at camp; you’re learning how to live communally. That means sharing, communicating, and understanding different perspectives. It’s all easier said than done, and camp provides a friendly and supportive environment for practicing those skills.

Being there when your friends need you

Learning to be a good friend means learning to give as much as you take. Everyone has rough days, and camp is no exception. Cheering up a friend who doesn’t feel like playing the games or joining in the campfire can be tough, but every camper does it. Why? Because they know that their camp friends would gladly lend them the same emotional support.

Friends that last forever

The camp experience is as intense as it is fleeting. Experiences like that don’t come around often, so it’s no surprise that campers often become life-long friends (or at least pen pals). When you find yourself missing summer, your camp friends are always there to remind you that you aren’t alone. Only someone who was there with you can truly understand what the nostalgia is all about — it’s an experience that links you forever.

Summer is always around the corner

The only sad part about camp friendships is when camp is over and you have to wave goodbye. Next summer always seems so far away!

I can guarantee the first question your family will ask when you get home: “did you make any friends?”

Regardless of how shy a camper may be, the answer is always the same: “so many!”